Nazia Jafri and Sheeba Naaz

Encounter is not an option to tackle with problem of extremism in a civilized society, feel the organisers of Shanti (peace) march held on October 4, 2008 by Sadbhav Mission, a NGO.

Organised in collaboration with Nishant Natya Manch, another NGO, the march started from Lal Quila (Red Fort) at eight in the morning. The participants included 300 students and teachers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University (DU) and Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI). Before culminating at Jamia Nagar for a solidarity meeting, the group traveled via ITO, Pragati Maidan, Mathura Road, Ashram and New Friends Colony.

Demanding a judicial enquiry on the Jamia encounter, the participants felt that certain religious communities are defamed. “We want judicial enquiry on the Jamia encounter. Unless the person is proved guilty, he should be provided legal aid,” said Vipin Tripathi, professor at physics department, IIT Delhi and the president of Sadbhav Mission.

Speaking on the fear psychosis created among the minority religious communities, he said, “There is a lot of fear among minorities. We want to change the perception against particular communities in India. We want people to speak out; an entire community can’t be terrorists. We want to break this myth. Innocent people should not become the target.

Sukhdeep Kaur is a Ph D student and a core member of Sadbhav Group. She feels terrorist do not belong to one particular community. “This issue is the problem of the entire society, not just Hindus or Muslim. I am in this march because I want to spread harmony.”

Another participant, Anmol Ratan is a student of Masters from Delhi University. “When a Christian Nun is raped by Hindu fanatics, he is termed as a fundamentalist. When a Muslim is involved in any criminal activities, he is called a terrorist! This is hypocrisy of worst form,” he laments.

When asked why does a community get branded as terrorist? Anuj Agarwal, sub inspector, IP estate said, “We do not want to stereotype. Coincidently most of the culprits are Muslims. May be that is the reason why many think that way.”

Speaking on the recent encounter at Jamia Nagar, he said, “If we had not killed Atif Ameen, there could have been more bomb blasts. In fact there has been one encounter in the area before.” When pointed out that the victims of the previous encounter were proven innocent, Agarwal did not have a reply. He added, “If public wants a judicial probe, we don’t have any problem.”

As questions continue to be raised on the Jamia encounter by various sections of the society, the police and government still have a lot to answer.